A Little Imagination Can Go a Long Way on Valentines Day

Create the perfect getaway at home

(ARA) – Its not romantic, but in todays world, money can be tight and quality time together can be scarce. Thats why its so important for couples to create a perfect night for Valentines Day—instead of the predictable candy, flowers or dinner in a crowded, overpriced restaurant.

Valentines Day gives us a chance, not only to relight the spark we have with our special someone, but to throw on a little kerosene so that it burns bright for another year. Even on a tight budget, a memorable night of romance and fantasy can be yours by using your imagination (which is still free until someone learns how to bottle it) and remembering this: you can be anywhere your heart desires with the right music, the right lighting and the right wine.

The Ski Cabin Fantasy

Is it your dream to spend a romantic weekend in Asheville or Aspen? Just the two of you in a little cabin, spending the night in front of a fire, safe from the ice and cold outside. Set the mood, and youre instantly there. Dim the lights and place some thick blankets and comfy pillows in front of the fireplace. Create that authentic atmosphere by turning down the heat as much as possible so that the blankets, the fire and some snuggling are absolutely necessary. Scent is important, so add a little something extra to the fire by soaking hickory chips in orange or apple juice overnight, powdering them with cinnamon and clove and then adding them to the fire as needed. For music, try some instrumental jazz like Miles Davis or John Coltrane. A spread of sliced cheeses, grapes, warm chestnuts and a passionate-purple bottle of Luna di Luna Sangiovese/Merlot will complete the scene with just the right flavors.

The Tropical Paradise Fantasy

Does the idea of an amorous night in Aruba, Key West or Cancun for Valentines Day sound more like your sweethearts desire? With a little creativity you can provide the next best thing. Turn-up the heat and lay out a thin blanket and a couple of beach chairs to create a tropical scene. Turn off all the lights on the east side of the room and replace the lights on the west side with orange bulbs to simulate the sunset, then spritz the air with ocean breeze- or orchid-scented air freshener to recreate a tropical atmosphere. Cook a tropical-style meal (grilled seafood or steak are always good choices) and serve it on the blanket. Add a background CD of beach sounds like waves or gulls to set the tone for the evening. For a finishing touch, youll need a sunshine-yellow bottle of Luna di Luna Pinot Grigio/Pinot Bianco or the volcano-orange bottled Shiraz/Merlot and a CD of Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley to play on another stereo and youre all set.

The Italian Romance Fantasy

Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Palermo; some of the most romantic cities in the world are in Italy. Chances are your Valentine would love a starry-eyed night of Italian food and ambiance almost as much as actually being there. Serve-up eggplant or chicken parmesan, baked ziti, tortellini alfredo or frutti de mar (Italian seafood pasta) along with salad and garlic bread to make mouths water and to put a rich, delightful smell in the air. Set the table and light candles throughout the dining area for a sophisticated ambiance. Pop open a romantic-red bottle of Luna di Luna Merlot/Cabernet, fill the air with the sounds of romantic arias or maybe Frank Sinatra, and youll have created a masterpiece by capturing the essence of Italy right in your dining room.

Any of these vacations would ordinarily cost you a pretty penny. But, as you can now see, with a little ingenuity you can create the experience right in your own home. All you have to do is imagine what that perfect night would be like, then creatively use music, lighting, color and scent to set the mood and capture the experience. After all, if its the thought that really counts, then the imagination you put in to your Valentines Day evening will be worth a fortune.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Recipe – Baked Ziti (serves 2)

Ingredients
125 g ziti pasta
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
125 g ground beef
350 g spaghetti sauce
100 g sour cream
100 g Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cook ziti pasta until al dente; drain.
  2. In a frying pan, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat.
    Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  4. Butter a baking dish.
  5. Layer as follows:
    • 1/2 of the ziti
    • 1/2 of the Mozzarella cheese
    • sour cream
    • 1/2 of the sauce mixture
    • remaining ziti
    • remaining Mozzarella cheese
    • remaining sauce mixture
  6. Top with grated Parmesan cheese
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheeses are melted (approx. 30 min).

Buon Appetito!